Friday, July 17, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: 2016 Good Trailers

Hello there,

Cat here. As your reward for returning we finally get to talk about the trailers that I did like. In another post we can discuss the remaining shows that didn't put out trailers. Yes, I know there was a big delay in between this post and the last few. Sorry about that.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (the cw)
God bless the crazy people who haven't given up on musicals on TV. Santino Fontana is in this. Why am I even still typing? Of course, I'm watching this. I hate the name though.

Angel from Hell (CBS) 
I can't say that I watch a lot of CBS shows or that this looks that great to me but I can be pretty loyal. Maggie Lawson pretty much got me from Model Behavior and even though I eventually gave up on Psych (after 5 seasons you're pushing it) I'm probably always going to be interested in her next project. We've also got Liza Lapira in this who I've followed from Traffic Light to Don't Trust the B in Apt 23 to Super Fun Night. You're great, Liza Lapira. Please find a show that doesn't get cancelled after a season. There's also Kyle Bornheimer from Perfect Couples and a brief stint on Agent Carter. And of course, Jane Lynch. I watched all six seasons of Glee and I love Hollywood Game Night though her banter on that show is awful. I don't see this show having a long life but I'll probably tune in as long as it's on the air.

Supergirl (CBS) 
So opinions are divided on Supergirl. Again, I'm very biased. I have no attachment to the character or the canon but I like too many of the people involved in this show to not watch. It feels like even more of a girl power show than Agent Carter and I'm not as put off by the supposed gendered storytelling. We'll see where they go with it. I mean, let's not pretend that Smallville, Arrow, and The Flash don't spend a fair amount of their running times on romantic foibles and somewhat frivolous concerns. We have Melissa Benoist, who was bland but relatively charming as Marley on Glee, the goddess Laura Benanti, and the fabulously talented and most likely to be wasted in this Jeremy Jordan. They've also included Mehcad Brooks (The Deep End), Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie), and David Harewood (Selfie). The only cast member who is really throwing me off is Calista Flockhart. I'm really not sold on that character at all.

The Grinder (FOX)
The trailer made me chuckle which is more than I can say for a lot of comedic trailers. The cast is solid and I like the guest stars/character actors. I'm in.

Wicked City (ABC)
Look, I watched every episode of Gossip Girl. #ChairForever. As soon as I saw Ed Westwick, I knew I was going to watch this show. He looks like he's doing a great job in this. I'm really not into the idea of another show with vulnerable women being murdered all over the place but I will give it a chance for him.

Best Time Ever with NPH
I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this but I will give it a shot. Will it be Maya Rudolph's show or another Hollywood Game Night? Again, who knows?

Minority Report (FOX)
This reminds me of Person of Interest and maybe a little bit of The Flash and you know, just a lot of other shows. That said, of the high concept show trailers that were released for this kind of show, this is the one that jumped out at me the most. Also, I like the team aspect. One day I will find my next Leverage. One day.

Lucifer (FOX) 
I cannot justify this one at all but I was kind of into this trailer. The leading man seems charming enough. I don't mind supernatural shenanigans on similar shows like Reaper or Deadbeat or Charmed. I don't like that it seems like another crime solving show with a Brit but yeah, I liked this trailer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: UnReal

Hello there,

Cat here. Let's talk about UnReal. Yes, I know it usually takes me ages to talk about a pilot now but the ratings for UnReal weren't great (not that the hits for this blog are fantastic either) and I want to see this series through to the end. A bit of background first. I haven't watched that much of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. I can't remember watching any of The Bachelor actually. I tried to watch some of last season (Andi's season) of The Bachelorette but I quickly became bored and hated everyone too much and got distracted by other things. What I have watched is every available episode of Burning Love and a lot of other terrible dating reality shows so I do have some inkling of what's being satirized and analyzed here.

UnReal, in case you were one of the under a million people who caught the pilot, is a show about the world behind the scenes of a show called Everlasting. It's pretty much The Bachelor but with even more emphasis on the fairytale romance. The Bachelor doesn't try this hard. So I guess more like "I Want to Marry Harry" if they took it seriously? I don't know. The series seems like it's going to focus on Shiri Appleby's (Dating Rules From My Future Self) character Rachel Goldberg but there's a nice ensemble dynamic happening. There's a lot of shorthand in the pilot but I'm willing to move past that as long as they find the depth in the characters during the rest of the season. Right now, Appleby makes the show. I can't remember seeing a female character like this for a long time... maybe ever. She's almost the opposite of most male antiheroes/geniuses who are running around solving crimes and diagnosing illnesses. She's smart and warm and empathetic and she's using her powers for evil. She feels bad about it but there's still a ruthless streak in her that's very compelling. She does drink a bit in the pilot but so far we've gotten no sign that she can't handle herself (in spite of her having to ask her boss to sign something saying she was sober and showed up to work on time). It's what she has to do at work that's actually taking a toll on her physical and mental well-being.

Other than the fantastic casting of Shiri Appleby, I think the best part of the pilot was the behind the scenes machinations. I came into the show expecting soapy trash. The kind of fix you get from Empire or Devious Maids. UnReal tries for that a bit but I don't think the humor or the dysfunction quite lands because you're held at such a distance from the action. You're not watching The Bachelor. You're watching The Bachelor sometimes two or three steps removed as the people in the control room watch Rachel watch the contestants. No, what's most interesting is not the tough-talking boss who is being played a little too over the top right now. It's seeing how the pieces are choreographed and coordinated and seeing those final pushes from Rachel that seal the deal.

Of course I do still have concerns. I'm hoping the show doesn't play too much into cliches and stereotypes. In addition to the unnecessarily brash boss who's secretly caring we have a workplace rival who can't match up and a quiet intern who they lingered on way too many times for her not to be important in the future. Even then I'm encouraged by the diversity of this cast in terms of gender, ethnicity, and age and the fact that they tackled the lack of the diversity on The Bachelor franchises in one of the first lines of the show. My other big concern is avoiding a romance, unrequited or mutual between Rachel and Adam Cromwell, the bachelor character. I can feel them pulling in that direction and I really wish they wouldn't.

CONCLUSION: Watch this show. This was a very solid pilot. I think it's a show with something interesting to say. It falls into that nice middle ground between a show that tries so hard to shock you that you're left with a ton of filler episodes and a show that never shoots for the fences but puts out a consistent product... that you can skip for a bunch of episodes and not really miss. I can't sell it any more just from the pilot but I have faith in it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: 2016 Meh Trailers


So you came back. Yes, we're continuing to analyze the trailers for the 2016 TV pilot season. This round is a kind of nebulous grouping of all the shows that fall in the middle. The trailers weren't so boring or uninformative that I completely wrote them off but they also weren't enough to guarantee that I'd watch the show. There were things in all of these trailers that I liked. And also things that I didn't.

Quantico (ABC)
So I know I rejected Code Black which is a similar shows about a group of newbies plunged into a competitive environment, blah blah, formula. There's something about this ensemble show that grabbed me a little more. Maybe it's just that it's not in a hospital. Granted, there's not a lot that I'm drawn to right now but if it's done well, I could see myself liking this one. Certainly more than Covert Affairs.

Scream Queens (FOX)
So the good news, at least for me, and you if you like reading my thoughts on TV shows, is that the horror doesn't seem gory enough to make this a hard pass. It feels more like Pretty Little Liars than American Horror Story. The bad news is that this trailer was not that impressive and there's a lot of, erp, not quite A level talent, that are making me question the quality of this project. Oliver Hudson from Nashville? Nasim Pedrad? All the stunt casting? Why is Lea Michele in headgear?

The Real O'Neals (ABC)
I'm cautiously optimistic about this one. I won't jump to saying it as good as the family comedies that ABC delivered last season but it feels like one of the better family comedies... maybe one of the ones I never watched like The Middle or Raising Hope. Were those good? Obviously I don't know.

Uncle Buck (ABC)
This trailer was fine. I don't think I'll get far past the first few episodes but it seems like a decent TV movie or a lower tier feature.

Life in Pieces (CBS)
They put together a good cast including Zoe Lister Jones (Whitney), Colin Hanks, James Brolin, and Dianne Wiest. Yes, I watched Whitney. Don't judge me. This is what I imagine Parenthood was like never having watched it. I don't think I'll watch this show either.

Of Kings and Prophets (ABC)
I'm not a big fan of Biblical dramas and I still haven't watched Rome or Game of Thrones, epic ensemble dramas in this vein. Nothing in the acting or story I can see in the trailer is compelling to me. So why is this in the "meh" group? Look, this could very well be that ancient Egyptian (?) show from last season that they cancelled before it even aired. But it does look like they spent the money to bring a pay cable style epic ensemble drama to network so I'm at least a little interested.

The Player (NBC)
Why isn't this show about Wesley Snipes? If this show was just about Wesley Snipes I would have put it in the good category. It's not even about a team including Wesley Snipes and that lady with an accent. Instead it's about another capable white guy and his dead prop wife and... nope. It looks good for what it is but what it is isn't a show I'm going to watch.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
There was no way I was going to watch Arrow but I fully intended to cover at least the trailer for The Flash. It got away from me. I saw it. My general impression was... this is very conventional and somewhat lacking in depth and heart. Legends of Tomorrow looks like more of the same except I do like the fact that there's a clear team and not just a star and all his sidekicks. My heart hasn't forgotten Leverage and apparently I haven't lost hope that I'll find another team show again. I got my hopes up for Alphas but that didn't pan out. And it's nice to see a team with diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age (shout out to Victor Garber). I will try to cover the pilot but I doubt that it'll be a show I keep up with.

The Frankenstein Code (FOX) 
Is it wrong that I don't hate this? I feel like I should hate this. That's not to say that I like it either but yeah, I could watch it.

Heartbreaker (NBC)
This is another perfectly fine trailer. It doesn't look awful. I'm sure someone will like it. But I've definitely seen this show before and I'm not interested in watching it again.

Grandfathered (FOX)
I think I like Josh Peck and John Stamos but this premise is entirely uninteresting to me. Otherwise, it was a decent trailer.

Rosewood (FOX)
These crime-fighting male-female team-ups live and die on the actors they cast and I'm not feeling it from the trailer. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: 2016 Bad Trailers

Hi there,

Cat here. No idea why you're still with me on this weird diversion we've been taking for much longer than I thought we would but I'm glad you're here. Like the misguided Married at First Sight, we're going to be taking another crack at analyzing pilot season for 2016 so let's take a look at the shows that may or may not be occupying our time. I'm getting the bad news out of the way first by starting with the trailers for shows I will most likely not watch, at least past the pilot.

Blindspot (NBC)
Based on her role in Kyle XY, Jaimie Alexander seems to be perfect casting for this show. That said, I'm not excited by the idea of this completely objected nonperson female protagonist. However, Agent Carter made me realize I might be more into fight sequences that I thought I was so I will at least watch the pilot for this.

Code Black (CBS)
This show doesn't look terrible at all. It just looks very, very boring. Marcia Gay Harden has not grabbed me with her presence in the last two shows I've seen her in, Trophy Wife and How to Get Away with Murder, and yet she's the strongest member of the cast from the trailer and that has me worried. I've also just found it difficult to care about medical dramas since House ended. Luis Guzman is an interesting addition but Octavia Spencer wasn't enough to get me past the first dreadful episode of Red Band Society so I don't imagine he'll do much better. Plus, we've got Raza Jaffrey who I'll contend ruined the first season of Smash more Katharine McPhee. Yeah, I said it. I may watch the pilot if I have the time.

Containment (The cw)
This show doesn't look bad. Actually the quality seems rather good for the cw. Or at least the cw before all the DC comics properties. I'm just not interested in this show at all. I also didn't watch that Contagion movie. There's a reason why Titanic was successful. There are too many people in this trailer and I don't care about any of them. I have no idea where this show is going. Are they just going to force you to watch large-scale human suffering every week? Sure, that sounds fun.

Limitless (CBS)
I did not watch the movie with Bradley Cooper though it looked better than this. This started off annoying with the same goddamned voiceover that plagued me throughout the 2015 pilot season and then quickly became the same procedural where a male and female lead solve crimes. I need really compelling actors if I'm going to sit through that again and I don't think Jake McDorman (Manhattan Love Story) and Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) are those actors.

The Family (ABC)
What is with all these bland titles? I know it worked for Friends but do you want it to be impossible for your show? Are you just counting down the days until it gets cancelled? I was burned by that Impostor documentary, which you absolutely should not watch, and I just don't find these kinds of things compelling. It's nice to see Allison Pill and Andrew MacCarthy and Liam James (Psych) but I don't like any of them enough to suffer through this.

The Catch (ABC)
I wasn't grabbed by the acting in the trailer. I don't really care about the mystery. And I was burned by my first Shonda show, How to Get Away With Murder. I'll pass.

Dr. Ken (ABC)
I don't hate sitcoms. Last season ABC did well with Blackish, Fresh Off the Boat, and Cristela. But I'm not just going to watch a show for the sake of supporting diversity if the show's not any good. This show seems to lack the heart, solid acting, and writing of those other comedies. You have Ken Jeong (Community), Dave Foley, Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife and Kids), Suzy Nakamura (Go On), and Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife, Fresh Off the Boat) who I've liked in other things but I don't know if I'll even watch the pilot.

The Muppets (ABC)
I'm certainly not saying this show will be terrible. What I'm saying is that as a non-fan this trailer did nothing to sell me on the show.

Oil (ABC)
The premise and the world of the show do not appeal to me. I didn't watch the original Dallas and I didn't watch it when it came back on TNT. Also as a loyal viewer of Gossip Girl I have absolutely zero faith in Chace Crawford's ability to carry a show.

Heroes Reborn (NBC)
I did not watch Heroes when it originally aired and while I do like Zachary Levi I did give up on Chuck a season or two before it was cancelled. The trailer gave me nothing to go on. I will probably pass on this.

People Are Talking (NBC)
I'm not sure if the situation in the trailer is just limited to the pilot or if that's supposed to be the premise for the entire show. Regardless, while this wasn't awful, there was nothing here that made me want to watch this show. It's another bland comedy that will either be cancelled immediately or amaze me when I realize it's still on the air in a couple of years. It does have Mark Paul Gosselaar in it but then so did Franklin and Bash.

Bordertown (FOX)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: Backstrom


Cat here. Yes, I'm just racing through these today. I forgot about Backstrom. I think I'd convinced myself that I'd already written this post. I was looking forward to this show since I saw the trailer and yeah, I like it. I missed having a procedural in my life. House has ended. Psych has ended. I think Burn Notice has ended but I just stopped watching one day and never looked back so I can't be sure. I can't watch Bones anymore. It's too dumb. I tried, probably two or three seasons longer than I should have, but I can't watch that show anymore. Castle is alright but it's not a show I want to watch every week. And there are only so many Law and Order reruns you can watch. Backstrom fills that void for me.

There's not that much to say about it. It's a fine little procedural in the vein of all the other special, quirky dudes solving crime or illnesses with their unique brand of snark and insight. You know what you're getting into when you turn one of these shows on. On a positive note for Backstrom, I actually like the rest of the ensemble. I think the weakness of the show is when it wants to get too serious. Everything with Backstrom's back story and those little close-ups of Rainn Wilson... "feeling" things really deeply are just... Yeah, it's sweet that they're trying to go there but it doesn't work.

CONCLUSION: Do you need to watch Backstrom? No. But if, like me, you're looking for a procedural to fill that void... maybe check it out. You could certainly do worse.

Underthinking Pilot Season: The Grace Helbig Show

Hi there,

Cat here. I'm going to keep this one short. I'm a fan of itsgrace on youtube. I wanted to like this show. I did not like this show. It feels incredibly awkward... in a bad way, like they haven't been able to capture what makes Grace so funny. The camera feels like it's at a remove. The format does not feel strong at this point and I hope these aren't permanent segments. The monologue, Deal... it feels forced. And also like a long livestream where they're just throwing things at the wall. Her podcast is great. You should listen to it if you haven't done so already. Her book is alright but not really that funny. If you're looking for a good memoir, I suggest Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson instead.

CONCLUSION: I will keep watching. Of course I'm going to keep watching. I'm hoping they'll find their footing soon. You probably shouldn't watch until they do.

Underthinking Pilot Season: The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore

Hello internet,

This seems like an odd show to underthink as we've been talking about narrative fiction shows so far but I decided to throw it in the mix anyway. We've already talked about Blackish, which Larry Wilmore was involved with, and it is a new show that premiered this season and you know what, look, this is my blog, well, our blog (Hi Gab!), and we're going to talk about what we want to talk about.

I've watched almost all of the 35 episodes that have aired at this point. I may have missed five or fewer episodes because I didn't have enough time to watch them and they just expired from my hulu queue. Regardless of the exact number, I feel like I have a good grasp of the show at this point. The decision to go with the panel show was an interesting choice but it's ultimately a big weakness. Even on Fox News, the panel show format, not the shows with the talking heads but the ones on Fox News or Fox Business where people just hang out and talk, are the worst. They might actually contain fewer inflammatory ideas and comments and foster a real discussion but they are generally quite boring. And when people want to talk over each other or get in their soundbytes, things become a bit of a mess and there's no depth to the discussion.

I admire the fact that The Nightly Show isn't afraid of tackling big ideas but I don't think this is the right format to do it. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is just a superior show. For me, it's the news show that inherits the mantle of Stewart and Colbert and pushes farther into tackling big issues and provoking change. For the most part, I just don't find The Nightly Show that consistently funny and the panelists rarely delve deeply into the subjects they tackle and make any original salient points.

CONCLUSION: This isn't a show you need to watch but if there's a topic that interests you maybe tune in once in a while. You may get a laugh or two out of it but you probably won't learn anything and it'll likely just reinforce the viewpoint you already hold.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: Marvel's Agent Carter

Hello there,

Cat here. I know, I know. I am super behind on this. At this point I've already seen the entire first season of Marvel's Agent Carter and I'm sure you have as well if you had any interest in the show. But let's just go ahead and talk about it anyway. The best way I can explain my experience watching the show was that the things that I thought would appeal to me didn't, but I still found a lot to enjoy about it.

It is still so difficult to write good female characters for some reason that it seems that many times people just stumble into a good female character without that being their main goal. I think that might be why there are often more compelling female characters in ensemble shows or in the background than female leads. It gets very tricky and the dearth of well-written female characters results in an incredible pressure on a show that decides to have a single female protagonist, never mind one with a so called "feminist agenda."

So yes, I could pick this pilot apart. I could point out that it starts with establishing Peggy Carter as a character in relation to Captain America and with her uttering the lines "I'll get Howard on the line. He'll know what to do." The hero makes a brave, self-sacrificing choice while the heroine is helpless to stop him or to help. But over the course of the series, we see this moment as the anomaly. Usually. Although it never stretches believability in Agent Carter, having such a capable character can be a bit boring. After a while it's not as a exciting to watch a show where the doctor, lawyer, detective, etc. is going to be able to resolve the problem within the hour. Having the series start with this moment which stands in stark contrast to the rest of Peggy's adventures makes her successes somehow more satisfying. We've already seen her fail.

So what was it that I expected to be drawn to that let me down? Well, after two or three episodes, you stop caring but this is really not a period show. The costumes are... fine, but did nothing to place me in the era. There's something about the entire world that feels like they were trying but didn't really succeed. I don't know if it was a budget issue or an attempt to recreate the comics or just a lack of research and imagination but I always had that sense of remove. And, oh, the accents. I don't know if it was worse when people were trying or when they weren't. I'm looking at you Chad Michael Murray. The dialogue didn't always help. Again, I wasn't sure if it was worse when it sounded completely modern or when they forced period slang.

My other issue was the female empowerment angle. Throughout the series, I feel like they failed time and time again at portraying sexism. It was just so overt. And yet still not that offensive. It was an odd middle ground where they seemed too afraid to show characters act truly reprehensibly and yet too afraid that more subtle forms of sexism would be missed by the audience. The show asks us to have sympathy for pretty much all of the other agents with speaking parts who display sexist behaviors or attitudes so I understand not wanting to make them unlikable but it ended up feeling so awkward and undercutting whatever message they were trying to get across.

There were some fun gadgets in the pilot. I wish there'd been more of those throughout the series instead of Howard Stark's weapon of the week.

So now let's talk about what I did enjoy. The show is very easily digestible. It has a decent blend of the procedural and the overarching story line which made it compelling from episode to episode. And as someone who pretty much ignores most action and crime films, it was unexpectedly satisfying to watch the fight scenes in Agent Carter. I'm far from an expert on fight choreography but I think Hayley Atwell and whoever directed those scenes did a brilliant job making them exciting to watch and believable.

CONCLUSION: I feel like I rambled quite a bit with this one but here are my final thoughts. It's not a perfect show. It wasn't the period piece I wanted it to be and it bungled the feminism but I found it pretty entertaining and I would absolutely watch a second season. They'll have to work harder to make me actually emotionally invest in any of these characters but it has a lot of potential as a spy show.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: Empire

Hello everyone,

Cat here. Put music in your show and I will watch it. Glee. Smash. Nashville. Galavant. But unlike the creators of those properties, I understand that those shows aren't meant for everyone. But then there's Empire.

Guys, if you're not watching Empire... why are you not watching Empire? It is delicious, soapy goodness with musical breaks and I can't get enough of it.

Sure, not everything makes sense. There's that nonsense Lucious spouted about the internet and disenfranchised youths when the internet has lowered the barrier to entry for the music business and allowed smaller artists and unrepresented artists to reach a larger public than they would have been able to without it. There's no good reason why he has to groom one son to be his successor instead of having them work together. King Lear had three daughters.

But if you can watch this show and not get taken in by Terrence Howard's and Taraji P. Henson's performances, I don't know if we can be friends. Taraji in particular is amazing. Not that the show needs carrying but let's just say she's ready and able to shoulder the burden should she need to. Beyond that, Cookie is still a very interesting character. She's not politically correct at all but at her core, she's a good person. And don't think I missed her shout out to one of (I think) the only two women in that boardroom. I see you, Empire. I see you.

While I think the family dynamics are the strongest part of the show I would like to learn more about Tiana and they really need to do something about how they're writing Andre's wife because none of that makes even an ounce of sense.

CONCLUSION: Watch Empire. I'm going to. At this point in the series I don't care that much about any of the sons and there's a whole boatload of craziness happening but I will continue watching to see what they pile on next. You should too. 

Underthinking Pilot Season: Marry Me

Hi guys,

Cat here. Continuing on with my effort to just plow through a bunch of these posts, let's talk about Marry Me. I like Casey Wilson. Happy Endings was great. The Hotwives of Orlando was occasionally amusing. I like Ken Marino (Reaper, Burning Love). I should like this show, right?

Well, at the start, I didn't. I didn't hate the show but it was feeling a little forced. I was hyper aware that the show was a show. I didn't connect with the characters because it felt like one long sketch or a game of how fast people could deliver their dialogue. Honestly, I felt like I was drowning in banter.

However, as the pilot went on the laughs picked up. The jokes are there and the line delivery is great. Having now watched more episodes, the characters are growing on me though I still feel that sense of remove. They feel more like actors than people and in going for a laugh you sacrifice a lot of emotional depth. So while I don't really care about the characters that much even now, it is an enjoyable little half hour show.

Lastly, tell me the Kevin's are not how they should have written Rachel's dads on Glee.

CONCLUSION: Give it a chance for a few episodes. If it doesn't win you over, it just might not be for you. It's pleasant and funny and diverting but not a must watch.

Underthinking Pilot Season: Red Band Society

Hi there,

Cat here. I've had a bunch of notes cooling in drafts for different shows and it's time to speed through them. We might as well start with Red Band Society since it's been cancelled. Spoilers for the pilot ahead.

The first strike against RBS was the voiceover. I eventually got used to it on Blackish, Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, and A to Z but enough already. And now it's on Fresh Off the Boat. Who came up with this infuriating trend for this TV season? Red Band Society is without a doubt the worst offender though since the narrator here is the kid in a coma. It also stretches believability to have him as the narrator because even with him overhearing things in his room and the other characters talking to him, he would not know this much about everything happening in the hospital.

There's a level of ridiculousness here but it's less Glee and more Juno and I don't mean that as a compliment in spite of how you might feel about those respective properties. The dialogue is terrible and I don't know where this hospital is that has a giant school room with all of these students who I guess are at relatively the same learning level. The characters are ridiculous and not in an appealing way.

Overall, I didn't find the pilot funny at all and none of the characters (except for Octavia Spencer's nurse character) made me want to watch another episode.

And now for a list of times RBS seemed to want me to hate it.

  • "Shouldn't we call 911?" "Not til I post this on Instagram." 
  • when the cheerleader visited the coma kid in the "in between" world
  • the mindbogglingly terrible metaphor of the cheerleader having an enlarged heart and needing a heart transplant
  • the textbook characterization of the girl with the eating disorder
  • the time the cheerleader said "cray cray" unironically
  • the probable love square

Friday, February 6, 2015

Underthinking Pilot Season: Fresh Off the Boat

Hello lovely readers,

Did you miss me? I've been around. Not on this blog, but I've been around. I could tell you what I thought of Galavant but that can always be a post for another day (maybe if it gets a second season). I was recapping it for another site and I had enough of it without trying to review the pilot here. Suffice it to say I don't think they really did right by their female characters and I place a lot of the blame for the lackluster quality of the show at Glenn Slater's door because I think stronger lyrics would have helped a lot.

Now, on to Fresh Off The Boat. It worries me a little that they aired the first two episodes back to back in Galavant fashion. This isn't The Quest. You should not be trying to burn off episodes as quickly as possible. And furthermore, it's not necessary because this show is fantastic. It does not reinvent the wheel as far as family sitcoms go. And the comparisons to Blackish are fair. It's another smart, funny family sitcom that deals with racial issues. And I'm totally cool with that. I'm still watching Blackish and I will keep watching Fresh Off the Boat every week until/unless they take it off the air. Now, I don't think this show deserves to get cancelled but the majority of shows I love don't have a long shelf life, or at least spend that air time scrabbling to stay on the air.

I understand that the focus right now is on Eddie and his father. They are the two main characters who have the strongest motivations and the clearest goals right now so it makes sense that their stories are dominant. But I would love to eventually see more meaningful input from the female characters whether that's Eddie's grandmother or other students in school or easily one of my new favorite characters on television, Jessica Huang. Constance Wu is everything. Her favorite song is Something To Talk About by Bonnie Raitt. Yes. If I were younger and watching this show, Jessica/Constance would totally be one of my role models along with Lea Salonga for whom I harbor a deep-seated adoration. In two episodes she is already a strong, complex human character who is well written and well acted. And if that weren't enough, she gets to be funny. She's not an utterly ridiculous clown and she's not the straight man. Instead she's given a part that I can only describe as one that you'd expect a male character to have on any show where the actress wasn't also involved in the development process.

Conclusion: Needless to say I highly recommend checking this show out and supporting it. It might not rock your world but it has a strong, coherent voice and unlike many of the comedies we've gotten this season, it manages to be consistently funny. ABC might have failed on the rom-com revolution (though I did watch the entire seasons of Manhattan Love Story... it got better and Selfie... it was amazing and I hate them for cancelling it) but they are knocking it out of the park with their family comedies.